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Hasselbacks are almost-sliced potatoes baked with herbs and butter - like jacket potatoes, except the jackets are in tatters. They make an impressive side and are one of those things that look much more elaborate and hard to prepare than they really are.
Now this must have gone wrong: the cook distracted/pissed off/stressed/in love forgot to ALMOST-slice the potatoes - or neglected to place them on a special Swedish spoon - and wham! bam! went through them with a masterly knife action. Result - a pile of neatly sliced potato discs. And one even more stressed cook.
Well - what do you do when things you’re cooking look badly wrong? Of course, throw cheese at them. I can’t think of a single dish - with the possible exception of raspberry panna cotta - that wouldn’t benefit from an addition of grated cheese. And cheese with cream - super, might even review it with regards to panna cotta.
And what next? Ah, of course, instead of placing the spud slices obediently in layers into a dish, let’s stand them up, in rows, like soldiers or a queue in Waitrose after discounted Heston’s Christmas pudding. They will have their bottoms cooking in the cheese mix and the tops will get scorchy, crispy, crusty, lacey and all the other lovely adjectives that can be applied to cheese.
How can it get any better? How does it compare to the boring regular hasselbacks? It doesn’t - that’s how.
I have to tell the truth: I wasn’t that stressed out cook but I’m happy to check with NY Times Cooking if my conjecture was correct.
hasselback gratinServings: 4Time: an hour and a half
- 500g waxy potatoes, evenly sized (pink fir or similar)
- 50g Cheddar or Gruyere cheese, grated
- 30g Parmesan, grated
- ½ cup double cream
- 1 large clove of garlic, pressed
- 1 tbsp. thyme leaves
- salt and black pepper
1. Wash and scrub the potatoes, peel them or leave the skin on as you prefer. Slice them thinly with a knife or using a mandolin into 3-4mm discs.
2. Prepare a gratin dish that will fit all the potatoes in rows of vertically stacked slices, packed quite tightly - mine was 19 x 13cm. Preheat the oven to 220C/400F/gas 7.
3. Mix both cheeses together and reserve a large handful. Stir the cream into the rest, add the garlic and thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the potato slices to the mix and coat them thoroughly with the cheese mix. Transfer them gradually to the gratin dish, packing tightly in rows with their edges vertically aligned. Add any remaining cream/cheese mix to the dish.
4. Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for further 30 minutes until the edges turn gold and crispy. Sprinkle the reserved cheese on top and bake for 20 minutes longer until there’s a delicious crispy crust on top. Let them rest for a few minutes and serve.